Dallas rookie shines vs. Denver

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By Jamie Aron
AP Pro Football Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas  — Dwayne Harris’ head was spinning.

Giddy just to be playing his first game for the Dallas Cowboys, the rookie receiver was learning on the fly, too. Coach Jason Garrett had just pointed out a mistake Harris made running with the ball after his last reception, and now quarterback Stephen McGee was telling him to be ready to recognize a blitz and change his route if it came.

So, what did the kid do?

Harris indeed saw the blitz and made the adjustment. He wound up right where McGee expected and easily caught a short pass near the middle of the field. Then Harris took off, following Garrett’s advice all the way to the end zone for a 76-yard touchdown.

It was quite a highlight for the sixth-round pick from East Carolina. And it wasn’t even his best play of the night.

That came with 15 seconds left and the Cowboys driving for the win. On a fourth down, Harris got free in the end zone, jumped and grabbed a 13-yard pass from McGee, setting up a 2-point conversion that gave Dallas a 24-23 victory over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.

“He stepped up,” McGee said. “Man, you love to see guys who come out and play well in the game.”

Harris wasn’t always a standout during training camp, and the collection of third-stringers that McGee leads hadn't worked much on the two-minute drill. Thus, this was quite the debut.

“It says a lot for me — coming in, a little nervous, first game up under the lights, in front of millions, just to come out and play, have fun,” Harris said. “I think the coaches like what they saw in my performance. So it was a good overall game.”

Among the things still to be determined this preseason is how the Cowboys’ receiver rotation shakes out after starters Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Kevin Ogletree is penciled in as No. 3.

Anyone else who makes it is going to have to stand out on special teams, too. Harris and Raymond Radway jumped to the head of that pack with their performances against Denver.

Harris caught all five passes thrown his way for 127 yards. The long-haired rookie who was the Conference USA player of the year last season also took a kickoff 32 yards, and lost a total of 10 yards on two punt returns.

“It was a great night for me, I feel good about it,” Harris said. “It’s just a momentum-builder.”

Radway, who is bigger and faster but far less polished, had kickoff returns of 40 and 22 yards and caught a 6-yard touchdown pass. He failed to catch two other balls, including a high one with no defenders nearby.

“He was impressive in camp right from the start,” Garrett said. “I’ll be honest with you, we didn’t know a ton about him. He is a guy who is big and can run. He has been impressive in making the transition. You’re hopeful they can take it from the practice field to the playing field and he was able to do that.”